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J.N.B. Hewitt photographs of Iroquois people on the Six Nations Reservation, circa 1897-circa 1937

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Catalog Data

Hewitt, J. N. B. (John Napoleon Brinton), 1859-1937  Search this
Abram, Charles, Chief  Search this
Buck, Emeline  Search this
Buck, John, Chief  Search this
Buck, Joshua  Search this
Buck, Susan  Search this
General, Mrs.  Search this
General, Myrtle  Search this
Gibson, Simeon, 1889-1943  Search this
Hill, George  Search this
Hill, Simon  Search this
Jamieson  Search this
Jamieson, Clara Miss  Search this
Jamieson, James Mrs  Search this
Sandy, William  Search this
Sandy, William Mrs  Search this
307 Photographs (2 document boxes, silver gelatin)
305 Negatives (3 negative boxes, nitrate)
Iroquois [Six Nations/Grand River (Brantford, Ontario)]  Search this
Sioux  Search this
Onondaga  Search this
Seneca  Search this
Indians of North America -- Southern States  Search this
Indians of North America -- Great Plains  Search this
Tuscarora  Search this
Cayuga  Search this
Dakota Indians  Search this
Mohawk  Search this
Iroquois  Search this
Tutelo  Search this
Oneida  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
circa 1897-circa 1937
Photographs documenting Iroquois people made circa 1897-circa 1937 on and near the Six Nations Reserve by J.N.B. Hewitt, linguist with the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology.
Scope and Contents note:
Hewitt's photos primarily depict Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Oneida, and Tutelo peoples. There are also a few images of Iroquois houses and other structures, Hewitt's mask collection, and Onondaga Chief John Buck and family, Seneca Chief John Arthur Gibson and family, Cayuga Chief James Jamieson and family, and Cayuga-Seneca Chief Simeon Gibson. Most of the photographs were taken during several trips between 1897 and 1937, on and near the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario (Oshweken, Deseronto, and Brantsford), and New York (Niagara Falls, Nedrow, and Syracuse).
Arrangement note:
For Photo Lot 155 Hewitt's original arrangement and numbering has been maintained. The order of the photographs does not follow the chronology that they were taken; for instance there are often several photographs of an individual that were clearly made in different years. The original negatives also represent a variety of film and camera types. The arrangement and numbering for MS 4596, established at an unknown time, was maintained.
Biographical note:
J.N.B. (John Napoleon Brinton) Hewitt (December 6, 1859-October 14, 1937) was a linguist and ethnographer who specialized in Iroquoian and other Native American languages. Born on the Tuscarora Reservation near Lewiston, New York, his mother was of Tuscarora, French, Oneida, and Scottish descent. His father's heritage was English and Scottish, but he was raised in a Tuscarora family. Hewitt spoke English growing up, but when he left the reservation to attend schools in Wilson and Lockport, he learned to speak the Tuscarora language from other students. Hewitt grew up planning to become a physician, like his father. However, the course of Hewitt's interests changed when, in 1880, he was hired by Erminnie A. Smith of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology (now the Bureau of American Ethnology) as an assistant ethnologist tasked with collecting myths among the Iroquoian tribes of New York. He continued this work from 1880-1884, and then was briefly employed by the Jersey City Railways Co. (1884-1885) and Adams Express Co. (1885-1886). Upon Smith's death in 1886, Hewitt returned to the BAE to continue her work, remaining employed there until his death. Over the course of his career, Hewitt became the leading authority on the organization of the Iroquois League and the ceremonials, customs, and usages of the tribes composing it. He acquired an intimate knowledge of the languages of the League, including a speaking knowledge of Mohawk and Onondaga, and also became acquainted with several Algonquian dialects. On February 28, 1914, in recognition of his services in preserving for posterity a knowledge of the history and ethnology of the Iroquoian people of New York state, he was awarded the Cornplanter medal for Iroquois Research. Additionally, he was a founder of the American Anthropological Association and an active member of the Anthropological Society of Washington and the American Museum of Natural History, serving as both treasurer (1912-1926) and president (1932-1934) of the latter. Hewitt also contributed over one hundred articles for the Handbook of American Indians (Bulletin 30) and published the two volume Iroquoian Cosmology (1903 and 1928).
The collection is open for research. Access to the collection requires an appointment.
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Wampum  Search this
Trade, gifts and other exchanges -- Wampum  Search this
Wampum -- Iroquois  Search this
Photo Lot 155, J.N.B. Hewitt photographs of Iroquois people on the Six Nations Reservation, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
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J.N.B. Hewitt photographs of Iroquois people on the Six Nations Reservation, circa 1897-circa 1937
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives